Carly Findlay’s memoir, Say Hello

Hi there! Last month, I went to Carly Findlay’s book launch. The atmosphere was lovely and I came away with a copy of her book. I then spent the next few days devouring it.

A book rests on the edge of a tram window-ledge. It is facing up, the front cover reads in orange and black writing, "Say Hello Carly Findlay   How I became my own fangirl: a moir and manifesto on difference, acceptance, self-love and belief" Beside the words is a picture of Carly, who has a red face and dark curly hair. She is smiling and wearing an orange skirt, white top and pink tank top with colourful flower designs.

Carly is an award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist, writing about disability and appearance diversity issues. She is a proud disabled woman, living with a rare skin condition, ichthyosis. She is an awesome person and I’m glad I’ve met her.

Her memoir, Say Hello, details her life growing up with ichthyosis and how she has come to be proud of her disability and to own it. She speaks honestly of the ups and downs of living with her disability. The highs of family support, fandom, finding her community, loving herself and disability pride – and the lows of people’s ableism*, their pitying attitudes and intrusive questions.

N.B. Ableism = discrimination and/or prejudice against disabled people.

On her website, Carly writes about her book:

“….

There was no one in media or books who looked like me, or to tell me it’s ok to not want to change my appearance, and I didn’t know whether I’d find love – love with another or love for myself. I had to write that book. To be the person Little Carly needed. In Say Hello, I want to show parents who have a disabled child that there is no need to grieve a life lost – because their child is alive and can live a great life with love and support. I want to show readers how to be proud of their identity and their appearance, and love themselves even when the world has told them they have to hide. Representation matters. I hope this book is the start of more people with ichthyosis telling their own story – to shift the focus from the exploitative media we are seeing a lot of. Representation matters because shapes the way ichthyosis is seen, and lets people with ichthyosis see themselves. Disability literature must be disability-led.”

http://carlyfindlay.com.au/SayHello/

I related to parts of this book – being the odd-one-out sucks, and escapism through fandom, then finding my people, those who get me, have been saving graces. However, I should say too that my disability is invisible, so I have had more privilege than Carly. For example, I don’t get asked “what happened to my face?” regularly when I’m out and about, and people don’t flinch away from me or avoid touching me. Carly speaks candidly of these sorts of instances in Say Hello. She has faced plenty of discrimination and casual ableism. It sucks and, as Carly details in the book, is exhausting. People, stop it. PSA: check your attitudes and your privilege, drat it, in thinking about, seeing and interacting with disabled people. Stop making assumptions on behalf of us. We’re just going about our daily lives, ‘k? We’re not your bloody inspiration! Seriously, back off. 😡

Carly is unapologetic about her disability activism, politics and pride. From Carly and others like her, I am learning to be the same.

I encourage everyone to read Carly’s book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an angry memoir in parts (with good reason), as well as being laugh-out-loud funny and heart-warming. Thanks for writing it Carly. I can’t wait to read what you write next!

Buy Say Hello from Booktopia (paperback) and Apple Books (ebook), as well as department stores and bookstores in Australia and New Zealand. Carly is also doing a book tour. Having already visited Melbourne and Sydney (and with the Brisbane event sold out), she’s going to Perth, Albury Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Canberra and Adelaide as well. See her website (http://carlyfindlay.com.au/SayHello/) for details.

2018 Soundtrack

A well overdue post. For those who mightn’t have seen my previous soundtracks, every year since 2015 I’ve been posting a soundtrack of the year that’s been. Previous soundtracks are pre-2015, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Let’s get started on the 2018 ones:

MIV2018 Songs. Ah, MIV. It was a great experience and I’m very proud to have been part of the organising committee. I enjoyed the songs we sang, and I had a few favourites.

  • I Was Glad (Parry) – the big entrance piece, with organ accompaniment. We sound really strong in this one.
  • Lamentations, Light and Hope (Winikoff) – I love this one not just because it’s the Sop & Alto piece, but also I’ve found myself humming it to myself during different events. It is a song of womanhood and power – crying out in anguish, lighting the way, and rising triumphant.
  • Light of Life (Elgar) (especially No. 6, “Light Out of Darkness“) – I enjoyed our major work. The reason No. 6 gets a special mention is it’s the first all-choral piece in the work, our entry is built up with a lot of orchestral lead-in, and we enter superbly. Glorious.

My Eurovision 2018 songlist of favourites were as follows (in no particular order) –

  • Higher Ground (Rasmussen)
  • La Forza (Elina Nechayeva)
  • Monsters (Saara Aalto)
  • Mercy (Madame Monsieur)
  • You Let Me Walk Alone (Michael Schulte)
  • Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente (Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro)
  • Nova Deca (Sanja Ilic & Balkania)
  • Hvala, ne! (Lea Sirk)
  • Tu Canción (Amaia & Alfred)
  • Storm (SuRie)

Then there were songs from local choir concerts I listened to or performed in. From a MonUCS concert, I have:

  • Affirmation (Savage Garden) – I love this song. I first heard it ages ago, but it didn’t fully catch me then. Thanks to MonUCS singing it, I heard it anew.
  • The Longest Time (Billy Joel) – the song with the tenors leading. ❤
  • Some Nights (fun.) – loved the performance of this.
  • Sing! (Pentatonix) – an ode to singing.

From LaTUCS concerts, there were:

  • Shosholoza (Ndebele folk song) – this song has a powerful history. It’s a call and response song, is very enjoyable and can be easily used for spontaneous singing.
  • Seal Lullaby (Eric Whitacre) – ❤ ❤ I love this song. It’s a lovely melody – apparently, it was written to be one of the songs in a potential Disney movie that was never made.
  • Sanctifez Vos Ames (Lorraine Manifold) – a lovely rhythmic song written in French, with nice harmonies; written by the LaTUCS conductor.
  • Fleeting Moment (Lorraine Manifold) – another one from our conductor, notable because it was a lovely flowing song with great harmonies and included a great high A for the sopranos (the sort that feels very nice to hit perfectly – gotta love that soprano rush!)
  • If I Were A Bell (from Guys and Dolls) – I sang a solo in the LaTUCS concert #2 and this was the song I sang. I pulled it off pretty well I think.

Other songs to note include:

  • How Far I’ll Go (Moana) – the live-action video clip of this is magic. It started playing when I was at the gym one day and I paused to listen, caught. A song of endings, beginnings and finding [my] own path.
  • Most Girls (Hailee Steinfield) – I heard this song in a similar way. I really like it. We, women, are awesome.

Also, a few “finishing” songs – 2018, the last few months of it, were a succession of endings and beginnings. These were some of the songs that played at those events (like, for example, the Accommodation Services Gala Awards):

  • I’m Coming Home (Vance Joy)
  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston)
  • Can’t Stop This Feeling (TROLLS)

ETA: I nearly forgot, but another set of songs were important to me this year: BodyPump’s release #106 soundtrack. This was my soundtrack as I learnt BodyPump and learnt that I love it! These songs take me back there (listen to a Spotify playlist of them).

  • Still the One (Hardwell & Kill The Buzz feat. Max Collins) – warm-up track, setting up, getting in position;
  • I Am Here (P!nk) – squats, wow, oof; this one is one of the big workouts of the set and the song is an unapologetic anthem to being seen (for me, anyway)
  • Little Thing Gone Wild (Wildcat Wonder Wall) – chest track
  • Say Less (Dillon Francis feat. G-Eazy) – the back track, “say yes to the clean and press”
  • Tell Me You Love Me (MeGalantis & Throttle); Walk On Water (Thirty Seconds To Mars); Coco’s Miracle (Club Mix) (Fedde Le Grand & Dannic vs Coco Star) – all of these have good beats to move to and cover the triceps, biceps and shoulder tracks; I can’t remember which covers which.
  • Tribes (Chase & Status) – lunge track, ugh; good song for a tough (for me) set.
  • Revenge (P!nk feat. Eminem) – abs/core, another tough workout aided by a good beat.
  • Stargazing Kygo feat. Justin Jesso – the cool down track

That’s a wrap of 2018 songs. I might think of others, but they’re more likely to go into the 2019 song-list, given the date.